Albert Stapfer (attributed to) Ruines de Lavardin
Medium Daguerreotype (1/4 plate)
Mount in glass mount
Photo Date 1840-41c Print Date 1840-41c
Dimensions 4-1/4 x 3-1/4 in. (108 x 84 mm)
Photo Country France
Photographer Country France
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Although born in Switzerland, Albert Stapfer moved to Talcy, France, and became one of several wealthy French amateurs who very quickly turned their hand to daguerreotypes. He bought himself a camera and chose the family chateau of Talcy as his main subject; several plates, unfortunately (unlike our two examples) in poor condition, are kept at Talcy. Keenly interested in lines and proportions of the building, he staged his shots with care. Although he was thought to work only from 1839-1842 at Talcy, at least one of the plates attributed to him has a Christofle plate mark used in 1852, according to French conservator Jerome Monnier.
This daguerreotype may have been encouraged by Prosper Mérimée, who launched the later Mission Heliographique in 1851. In 1834 he was named Inspecteur général des Monuments Historiques. He reportedly had meetings and communications with Stapfer about documenting the area, and these dags may be the first government-encouraged documentary photography. Mérimée does have an unnamed Chateau in Loir-et-Cher on his 1840 list created for the French government. Perhaps it is Lavardin.
While the mount was added later, it appears to be from around 1900. The plate has an early plate mark in the bottom right corner with what looks like the number 23(?) in a horseshoe shape. There is a diamond shape with a W or an upside down M and dots at top and bottom with the diamond in the left corner (MDDDI [Rinhart n.35] M Double Dotted Diamond Inscribed). The is another tiny W or M in the upper left corner, perhaps scratched in the plate and barely discernible. The plate-maker mark is dated by the Rinharts as circa 1844, rare and by an unknown French manufacturer (according to Italian researchers, G.Chiesa & P.Gosio), but I suspect that this manufacturer was active even earlier, and this plate dates to the early 1840s. While the Rinharts listed this as an "M", they might be incorrect. The letter would be dependent on the orientation of the plate. The thickness of the plate itself is about 0.020".
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